THE FAILURE of the Constitutional Court to renew disciplinary proceedings against Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin could lead to a visit from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, warned Slovakia’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Marica Pirošíkova.

The committee usually oversees obligations stemming from ECHR verdicts until they are fulfilled, the TASR newswire reported on December 9.

“During bilateral talks in Strasbourg regarding the implementation of the Slovak verdicts on December 5, 2013, a member of the Committee of Ministers Secretariat announced a potential visit to the Slovakia’s Constitutional Court with respect to its failure to revisit disciplinary proceedings at the intrastate level,” Pirošíková told TASR.

She also voiced her concern over the decision of the Constitutional Court to turn down Harabin’s proposal to reopen the proceedings.

The original disciplinary proceeding against Harabin was launched after he repeatedly denied the Finance Ministry access to auditor to the Supreme Court from August 2010 onwards. Harabin at the time repeatedly asserted, “only the Supreme Audit Office [NKÚ] wields the right to supervise the Supreme Court”. He restated this position at his disciplinary hearing at the Constitutional Court, suggesting that a ministerial audit of the Supreme Court “is not possible unless one intends to talk about the independence of the courts”, the SITA newswire reported.

In November 2010, then justice minister Lucia Žitňanská lodged a disciplinary proceeding against Harabin. The Constitutional Court penalised Harabin, imposing on him the highest possible fine: a 70-percent cut to his salary lasting one year.

Harabin subsequently turned to the ECHR, claiming his right to an unbiased court process had been violated. On November 20, 2012, the court accepted this and recommended that the Slovak Constitutional Court rule on the issue again. At the same time, however, the ECHR rejected Harabin’s compensation request of €100,000 and €50,000 in lost income, and awarded him €3,000 instead.

Harabin then requested the Constitutional Court to renew the proceeding, but it rejected the request on October 29. Harabin announced that this most recent decision has prompted him to turn to the ECHR once more, TASR wrote.

Source: TASR, SITA

For more information about this story please go to: Harabin to appeal to Strasbourg over Finance Ministry audit

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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